I don’t go any further until you agree to hide my identity. Voice altered, no video footage, meta-data erased, etcetera. I’m not getting kicked out of the Council over this.
And if you want your career to progress any further forward, you’ll keep your word.
Now tell me — where did you get them from? Vesna, right?
She’s blackmailed me with these very same images before. And in return for doing what she wanted, she gave me the only copies in existence. So she said.
What choice did I have other than to trust her?
She’s insane and I’m a fool. We mix as well as vodka and absinthe. Which is a drink I wouldn’t say no to right now.
You won’t believe this, but I didn’t even send the images to her. She hacked my transmission’s log. Doubt I’m the only person she’s got doing her favours.
And no, they weren’t meant for my partner. I never said I was a good person. I just want you to know that Vesna’s not as innocent as she looks, either.
Still keeping her bees? I bet she’s named them Three and Five and Nine. Probably pretends they’re her own little Warp Squad buzzing around, now that she’s too old to be in the real thing.
As to why you’re here: I imagine she told you that there’s a…how should I put this? That there’s a cabal within the Council trying to take down the Warp Squad initiative. That there are forces working against the Elders, who, if successful, will end all of the worlds inside the Alliance.
Come on, you don’t actually believe that do you? A cabal [laugh].
It’s an entertaining story, but that’s all it is.
The truth is not everyone on the Council supports Warp Squad. There are people who would shut it down and start separate defense and exploration programs. But those opponents are not in hiding. It’s all just politics, right?
After that guy, Caliope, disobeyed orders and started the war in the Calat system, I’d say they have a case for getting it closed down.
I bet Vesna despises him for that.
She truly believes there’s an invisible faction pulling the strings, and that us Council members are their merry little Marionettes. That they’re attempting to dismantle Warp Squad, surreptitiously.
That this same faction was responsible for what happened to Sol.
She’s wrong, but in her head it’s all real. All happening. And only she can stop it. And now maybe you, too.
She’s protective of Warp Squad. Has been since she retired. Mothering, almost. Not of the members per se — she doesn’t care about them as individuals — but of the project itself. She’ll do anything to keep it safe.
Erickson? Yeah, I remember him. Ah, Vesna told you the cabal killed him before he was due to release… uh… harmful information.
His death was tragic. But he was depressed. People take their own lives every day and rarely can you predict it. Depression is a coiled snake waiting in your chest for its chance. Striking when you least expect it, fangs locking onto your heart, venom pumping through your body.
Think about it: why would a cabal who wants Warp Squad closed down prevent harmful information reaching citizens? Wouldn’t that help sway public opinion in the direction they’d want?
I can send you Erickson’s files — death certificate, crime scene — for you to look over.
Shall we move onto the reason you’re here?
No, I don’t know what happened to Warp Squad. No one does. Or if they do, they don’t share it with me. Vesna needs dirt on higher level members if she wants higher level details.
I do know something caused considerable alarm amongst the Elders. They sent Warp Squad 16 out in its entirety to meet it. Better to take care of it far away than wait for it to arrive. Less collateral damage for the rest of us.
I did hear a… a rumour. That Warp Squad were partly responsible for creating this threat in the first place — which is why the Elders decided they should be the ones to stop it. They say it had something to do with an excavation taking place on a planet beyond the Calat system. Found more than bones beneath the surface. So the rumour goes.
Either way, we should have heard back from them weeks ago. And therein lies the mystery.
But for all I know, their Cryobeds are simply being slow to defrost them.
You look disappointed. I wish you didn’t because that really is all I can tell you.
Okay, look, how about we strike a little deal?
If you destroy all remaining copies of these images that Vesna has, I could call in a few favors — see if I can dig up any information on what the threat actually consisted of.
Think about it.
In the meantime, I’ll send you the Erickson files.
Files Sent By Council Member:
Note from Council Member:
Erickson's Death Certificate:
Report on Erickson's Death:
Clue Hinting at a Jefferson Cipher/Disk: